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All comments by Mike Bell
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A few years ago, we (the UK) had a referendum on changing our electoral system. The campaign to keep “First Past the Post” aired an advert including a horse race where the third across the line was declared the winner, with the tagline, “how can the winner lose?”. A terrible argument, of course, as there would be no point having a referendum if both methods always returned the same result, but the adverts seemed to sway the British public.

This discussion is equivalent. If you believe that total IMPs is the best measure then of course you'll find these situations distasteful, but I think it is reasonable to believe that two 15 IMP wins should be worth more than a 45 IMP win and a 15 IMP loss. If, when the event finishes in a week's time, my team is still in the position of “winner” that lost, I might change my mind!
Oct. 31, 2016
Mike Bell edited this comment Oct. 31, 2016
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Slightly OT, but my favourite alerts are passes in pass-out seat (e.g. 1N-X-P-P; P when we have an agreement to XX with a five-card suit). This produces some perplexed looks down the club, but that's nothing compared to playing behind screens, where one has to alert an empty bit of felt.
Oct. 25, 2016
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36-3 with one board to score I believe, BBO has “passouts” in still
Sept. 11, 2016
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On that topic, I once won an important round-robin event on a ruling. The ruling was appealed, arguably frivolously, to “protect the integrity of the event”. At the time, I felt this was a reasonable approach as there was no problem assembling a strong AC to hear it, but if that had not been possible I suspect my feelings would have been different.
April 5, 2016
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I think it's clear to appeal in this situation. If the hand was less clear-cut, I would not. I admit that this approach would cause me a problem if the team that had qualified included friends.

Having said that, I do have a general principle to appeal terrible rulings regardless of their relevance to my own results. Last time I did that I almost lost my deposit, but that hasn't deterred me!
April 5, 2016
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No, don't do this.
Jan. 24, 2016
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Feel like I'm missing something, why would K from KQ-empty be placed in the “encouraging” position?
Dec. 20, 2015
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Intrigued, I read the 3rd part of “Transfer responses to 1 club opening”. I disagree with your assessment that it is ‘high-tech’.
Nov. 28, 2015
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Very disappointed by the content of this thread. I was looking forward to arguing that my bidding system is the best of all systems.
Nov. 1, 2015
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I don't suppose anyone can help me find this analysis? It would be appreciated.
Oct. 13, 2015
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It doesn't feel right to make it so likely that the same team wins both events. Drop-ins from the teams to the pairs makes more sense IMO.
Oct. 11, 2015
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It is easy to confuse scoring method and format when comparing events. I echo those who were surprised to hear BAM described as random, the evidence I've seen suggests quite the opposite. I think it's the multiple teams element that adds a feeling of randomness.

The unpopular element of BAM is that you can sweat away over an overtrick only to discover that it was irrelevant. This is an issue for those watching on BBO as well. Two possible solutions to this:

- Come up with a way to curtail play if one table has completed the board and the number of tricks taken at the second is irrelevant. I don't have all the answers here but it must be possible!
- Use hybrid scoring. There are lots of options here, a simple one would be to add two or three “IMPs” to the total of a team for each board won. This would combine the positives of both forms of the game.

For a serious event, regardless of scoring method, some sort of qualifying followed by a knockout seems best:

- A knockout is the purest test of skill
- This is partly because it lends itself to a ‘long event’ for the teams that are doing well
- The qualifier gives everyone a couple of days play

I think either round-robin groups or a swiss would be reasonable ways of qualifying. Regardless, I would like to see a repechage. For example, you could have 30 teams qualify for the “round of 32”, with the next 6 teams competing among themselves for a spot in the round of 16.

In short, I'd like to see the fall nationals include a long, major event, but I think BAM or hybrid would be a reasonable alternative to IMPs.
Oct. 8, 2015
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High enc is always better. Low enc invites you to huddle because you cant afford to play the high card you want to discourage partner. I find low encouraging just as unethical as O/E

And when discarding:
I really have never understood why you want to weaken a suit you are supposed to get tricks in. Yes, you can encourage in another suit, but sometimes you have no choice but to keep your suit
Oct. 7, 2015
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I suggest we crowdsource to find out if B+Z use the losing trick count
Oct. 6, 2015
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Kieran's comments most closely reflect my thoughts.

What would you think if I presented this alternative point count?

Ace = three points
King = three points
Queen = three points
Jack = no points

Doubleton = three points
Singleton = six points
Void = nine points

This is simple LTC in a nut-shell - one trick is worth about three points. One improvement suggested elsewhere is counting Axx as 1.5 losers and Qxx as 2.5 losers, which redresses the balance between high cards. That comes to ace = 4.5 points, king = 3 points, queen = 1.5 points which we know is about right for suit contracts.

The fundamental issue is that LTC overestimates the importance of shape compared with high cards. The assumptions are basically -

- We'll assume partner has no high cards wasted opposite our shortage
- We'll assume we've enough trumps to make use of all of our shape
- We'll deduct two tricks from our total to try to compensate for the assumptions above

How do we deduct two tricks? Well, you'll notice that two seven-loser hands are supposed to make ten tricks. Isn't that pretty similar to saying that two *six-winner* hands will make ten tricks?

In short, LTC gets you to underbid balanced hands, and overbid unbalanced hands with inadequate trump fits. You can apply all sorts of adjustments to try to make the method work, but it will never be as good as a method that doesn't assign ridiculous values in the first place.
Oct. 6, 2015
Mike Bell edited this comment Oct. 6, 2015
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Nick may be referring to my post on BridgeBase Forums, I've reproduced it here, with edits for context.


I much prefer standard carding to UDCA.

In some situations, standard attitude is clearly better.

On the lead of an ace, you can nearly always afford your second highest card from a queen-high holding. There are plenty of situations where you can't afford your second highest card to discourage from jack-high holdings. In the context of the small differences we are talking about, this one is significant.

Also, as previously mentioned, there's the “unblock but encourage” position that is particularly relevant when there is a singleton honour in the dummy - you want to play the ten from QTx to unblock, and you want it to be encouraging.

Switching situationally is obviously fine in theory but many find it difficult in practice.

Sometimes you can only afford low discards

In my experience, if you can only afford a low, discouraging discard, partner tries to work out what to switch to from what they know already. This is desirable; by this time you've usually got a lot of information about the hand. A high discard, made relatively rarely, serves as a wake-up call to partner.

If you can only afford a low, encouraging discard, partner is far more likely to take it as a strong signal, and switch aggressively to the suit you have encouraged.

I agree with Nick that a low, “almost neutral” discard, basically suggesting partner continue with the obvious defence, is useful in other situations too.

Confusion over following with an honour

Even playing UDCA, there are many positions where an honour should be encouraging. An obvious one is when partner leads an ace and you follow with the queen from QJ, but there are more subtle ones.

- Partner leads the ace. Dummy has QT98. Playing UDCA, what do you play from J7? What do you play from J73?
- Partner leads the ace, which you know is likely to be AKxxx. Dummy has T9xx. What do you play from J2? How can partner distinguish this from Q2?

I offer these situations as evidence that the jack should still be played from a doubleton as an even/encouraging card. (Would any UDCAers out there describe this as “standard”?)

- I seem to remember that a top English partnership had a misunderstanding about what should be played from QT9 or similar, in the Gold Cup final stages perhaps? Maybe one of the English players here can confirm the position.
Oct. 6, 2015
Mike Bell edited this comment Oct. 6, 2015
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I can't find an appropriate response listed
Oct. 5, 2015
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Everyone else is starting from a different point, Piotr.

*If B+Z are clearly guilty*, there most definitely is harm in letting them play the round-robin. How are the other teams supposed to react when they don't know if the match vs Poland will even count? I've not checked, but I'm guessing many will play the odds and rest their strongest pair. This will disadvantage them if the scores vs Poland are allowed to stand .

If B+Z are not clearly guilty, they should be playing in the event themselves.
Sept. 29, 2015
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I don't.
Sept. 28, 2015
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